Kokusai Group Enables People to Work from Anywhere

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon powered by Intel vPro® technology simplifies a busy life on the go.

At a glance:

  • The Kokusai Group has businesses in a range of fields including car dealerships, taxis, restaurants, and audio products.

  • Mr. Naoya Yamano is the Representative Director of three of the group’s companies and an active race car driver. As he goes back and forth from the office, home, and the racing circuit every day, he relies on his laptop running on the Intel vPro® platform.



The Kokusai Group has businesses in a range of fields including car dealerships, taxis, restaurants, and audio products. Mr. Naoya Yamano is the Representative Director of three of the Kokusai Group’s companies, including Kokusai Kotsu and a Lexus dealership. He is also an active race car driver. 

Yamano enters races in Japan like the Super Taikyu, which is a car race for commercially available vehicles. The goal of his racing activities is not only for company PR purposes, but to get hands-on experience with the technology on the racetrack. This allows Yamano to provide first-hand feedback to customers and employees to improve safety awareness for operating the company's vehicles. 

Mr. Naoya Yamano, Representative Director, CEO, and CIO, Kokusai Corporation. Tetsuya Yamano, the racing driver, is his older brother (Photo by Koji Ohnishi).

As he continues to have many irons in the fire, Yamano emphasizes that the thing he can’t live without is a high-performance laptop. As he goes back and forth from the office, home, and the racing circuit every day, he relies on his Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop that runs on the Intel vPro® platform.

A Computer is an Important Substitute for Your Brain

Yamano got involved with both computers and car racing as a student. After graduation, he started his career as a network system engineer at an IT startup company where he assembled his own computer from parts. Throughout his career, his passion for racing never waned. He started at The Kokusai Group in 2015, where he continues to be active in racing. Whether for car racing or work, Yamano relies so heavily on his computer that he believes it acts as a substitute for his brain. He has even taken precautionary steps to ensure the information on it would not be lost, even if there is a problem. “Even when I synchronized multiple devices and created the same environment redundantly, I did it as one action of risk management,” he said, showing a glimpse of his engineering spirit.

Whether he was in the office, at home, or at the racing circuit, he needed a computer that delivered the proper performance to keep up. In the taxi business, core systems that manage personnel, sales, and operations only work in specific computer environments. While at home or at the racing circuit, he had to run a virtual environment, or use a roundabout method of accessing the internal company computer remotely. 

A Versatile Laptop That Meets the Needs of Both Work and Racing Activities

Due to his frequent travel, juggling separate computers for office work and racing activities was something he wanted to avoid. One option would have been to switch to a lightweight laptop for better mobility. However, his work at the racing circuit involved high performance tasks that a weaker device would not be able to handle, like editing 4K videos and analyzing driving data. 

He ended up going with a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon running on the 11th generation Intel® Core™ vPro® processor. Particularly enjoying its 14-inch 4K display with a large memory capacity. “It didn't feel like the weight had changed, even though it had a larger screen and higher resolution than the 13-inch laptop I had been carrying before,” he said, expressing his initial surprise. 

The laptop performed sufficiently for everyday use for extended periods of time without any stress. Even when the processing load increased, there wasn't much heat generated or fan noise. Yamano liked the light feel of the trackpad and keyboard, which made it a pleasure to use for editing videos at the racetrack. The 4K 14-inch display allowed him to view graphs in detail while he used data loggers to conduct his analyses. 

He found the laptop easy to use when working between driving sessions. There was no longer a need to remotely access his internal company computer, so the operating speed didn't influence the network environment, and he was able to use core work systems smoothly.

“I was doing work for multiple businesses at the same time, and even during race week, except for the times I was actually gripping the steering wheel, I was always working. I had to make decisions on the fly, and I had to reply to emails and create documents quickly,” he said. For him, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon was a satisfying choice, because it was easy to use in a small space and always performed at an elevated level.

Since Mr. Yamano is always running around with his laptop, he makes cybersecurity a priority (Photo by: Koji Ohnishi).

A Platform That Delivers Reliable Security and Manageability Features

Because the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is running on the Intel vPro platform, Yamano has high expectations about its security and remote management functions. Intel® Hardware Shield can protect against attacks outside the operating system that disable booting and malware that causes data leaks. The technology can detect and handle threats such as ransomware that takes data hostage.

“In my work, I handle a lot of confidential information,” he said. “When planning an aggressive sales strategy, first we have to ensure that information is thoroughly protected. It's too late to wait until there is an attack, and it can't be undone. For that reason, it's important to use a product that is reliable and has high security functions.” He pointed out that a computer with the Intel vPro platform is essential.

Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) also makes it possible to centralize device control and send commands remotely—like powering the computer on and off—and execute important security updates. Companies that promote teleworking can streamline manageability and maintenance of dispersed employee computers. 

Before Intel AMT, Yamano needed to leave his work computer on at all times so that he could access the environment remotely when needed, even though it wasn’t being used directly. Keeping computers running for extended periods of time without use can shorten the life of the hardware. He was also concerned that he wouldn’t be able to access the computer for urgent matters if it was powered down. 

With the Intel vPro platform, a computer can be powered on and accessed remotely, making it no longer necessary to always keep the unattended work devices on. As a result, the technology makes it possible to extend hardware life.

Technology Innovation to Streamline Hybrid Work

Mr. Yamano revealed that, currently, for legal reasons, roll call in the taxi industry has to be in person, but it is moving toward introducing an IT roll call system that conducts roll call remotely using a smartphone or another device before drivers can start work. Cash payments from customers taking taxis have decreased by 20%, taken over by electric money and credit cards over the past four to five years. 

As someone who was already teleworking from the racing track, he recalled that, in 2020, “People around me have switched to teleworking environments.” It used to only be email and text chat, but now people can do Internet meetings that use audio and video. “I'm now making progress on work even when I'm at a race.” 

In this way, the entire industry is rapidly changing to digital. There are more people in the company from the young generations that aren’t resistant to digital concepts, and the groundwork for using technology is starting to come into place. Mr. Yamano wants to be the first to show people that it is possible to perform both racing and regular work at the same time, and he wants employees to know that “It isn't difficult to create an environment where you can work anywhere.” In the future, he aims to introduce laptops running on the Intel vPro platform for all employees who work in the office and use remote control to efficiently manage devices in a centralized way. 

Also, Mr. Yamano declares that—since it’s a substitute for his brain—his performance depends on his computer. He modifies his computer environment once every two years. “It doesn't have to be the top-of-the-line model, and it's better to replace sooner." He doesn't see a need to continue using a specific computer for a very long time. "Old computers waste time. I can manage things efficiently with the latest high-performing computer.” In the future, he will continue to firmly grip the two “steering wheels” of race cars and management.

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